5 Natural Pain Management Techniques That Work
Perhaps you’re tired of waking up with lower back pain. Or getting through the workday with headaches. Maybe nerve damage or arthritis is what keeps you from enjoying special events. Whatever your chronic pain condition, there may be a natural remedy.
Forty-two million US adults say pain disrupts their sleep at least a few nights a week or more. And an estimated 20% of patients in pain receive an opioid prescription at the doctor’s office.
Yet opioids come with the risk of serious side effects, as well as addiction. One in seven Americans over the age of 12 has a substance misuse problem.
Natural pain management comes without the side effects of prescription painkillers. From nausea and constipation to drowsiness and slowed breathing, prescription pain medications may be more of a hindrance than a benefit to some.
Enter: Natural pain management techniques that are simple to implement (and often covered by insurance!).
5 Natural Pain Management Techniques That Work
Chronic pain is worth a conversation with your doctor, and it doesn’t have to end in a drug prescription. While some benefit from this treatment, others favor the tools like diet, movement, and non-opioid options described below.
1. Incorporate pain-fighting foods into your diet
Diet plays a significant role in pain management. People who consume pain-fighting foods report less pain and need less medication than those who don’t.
You already know that some foods are better for you than others (we’re looking at you, trans fats) and that you should eat a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, protein, carbs, and fiber. Try Including certain foods within this balanced diet for natural pain management.
Foods that provide natural pain relief include:
- Red grapes
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chili peppers
To truly manage your pain with food, you’ve got to analyze what you’re putting into your body too. Consuming more added sugars than the body can process at one time increases the release of cytokines (pro-inflammatory compounds) and may activate C-reactive proteins (an inflammatory biomarker). Additionally, excess sodium may lead to water retention, which can increase joint pain.
2. Increase your level of movement
Physical activity doesn’t have to cause pain. The right exercises may help improve mobility and decrease inflammation, as well as overall pain levels. Try walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi, and strengthening/stretching exercises.
It may seem daunting, but exercise could be all that stands between you and preventing chronic pain.
3. Consider alternative pain relief
Other natural pain management options include regular chiropractic care, physical therapy, therapeutic massage, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Chiropractors realign the body to relieve pain, improve function, and help the body heal itself.
A physical therapist may be able to devise an exercise program that addresses your specific pain concerns.
Therapeutic massage not only relaxes painful muscles, tendons, and joints, but also relieves stress and anxiety and helps to stimulate competing nerve fibers while disrupting pain messages to and from the brain.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to adjust the way you think about certain things, like your pain. When you learn how to stop negative thoughts, you become more equipped to cope with life’s challenges. This is an excellent option in conjunction with other natural pain management techniques.
4. Up the ante with advanced pain management approaches
If your pain is unmanageable, you may consider other options with your doctor like electrical nerve stimulation, spinal cord stimulators, muscle/nerve/spinal injections, implantable infusion pumps, and surgical procedures to eliminate the pain source.
5. If medication is right for you, consider non-opioid options
These medications may come with their own side effects (talk to your doctor), but they eliminate the risks of opioids. Give non-opioid pain management a try with medications like:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (such as ibuprofen and naproxen)
- Anticonvulsants (like gabapentin)
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) (antidepressant medications)
- Corticosteroids (steroid injections)
- Skeletal muscle relaxants
- Topical analgesics (cream- and ointment-based pain meds)
Consult your doctor if over-the-counter pain medications (like Tylenol or ibuprofen) do not relieve muscle pain caused by occasional pain from movement your muscles aren’t accustomed to.
Have you tried any of these natural pain management techniques? Let us know what works for you in the comments!